Unreal Engine 4.16 Brings Volumetric Fog and up to 50 Per Cent Performance Optimizations

Written by Neil Soutter on Fri, May 26, 2017 11:11 AM

Epic has just pushed Unreal Engine 4.16 out the door, bringing with a raft of new rendering and animation features, performance improvements, and support for the Nintendo Switch. The new Volumetric Fog feature should be a biggie for PC gamers, allowing developers to add varying densities of fog, cloud, dust or smoke to a scene, each of which can be lit realistic with light shafts. As we've seen with Volumetric Lighting this effect can look great, and it should now be easier than ever to implement for game devs. 

The implementation of Volumetric Fog is unlimited, meaning there can be any number of light sources while its density can be toggled at will.

Distance Field Ambient Occlusion and Ray Traced Distance Field Shadows have been optimized and will now run an estimated 30-50% faster on both current-gen consoles and a mid-spec PC. Both of these features are used for more realistic ambient lighting and area shadows in the environment. 

Another totally new feature is Lightweight Rigid Body Simulation. This can be used to create armies of physically simulated NPCs, all of which can collide with one and another and the static geometry in a world. It’s accompanied by one of those natty tech videos we all love, showing how explosions can send a horde of robotic characters flying into one another. Mmmm, physics.

Developers now have more control over Low-Level Clothing Simulation. This is based on Nvidia’s own PhysX Clothing, and it concerns how cloaks and other clothing ripples realistically depending upon the player’s movement. It’s been shown off in Epic’s own Paragon, looking like a fairly decent step up. 

The rest of the changes really get into the nitty gritty of game development, including UI tweaks and HTML5 support,  so I won’t go into them here. 

Last but not least, however, is official Nintendo Switch support. Snake Pass has already launched on Nintendo Switch with Unreal Engine 4 support so I’m not entirely certain what the changes are here, but Epic says “Registered developers can now build and release games for the Nintendo Switch! Unreal Engine 4's production-ready Nintendo Switch support is certification compliant, enables networked multiplayer, and provides access to multiple rendering pipelines - deferred, mobile forward, and clustered forward - to enable you to ship virtually any type of game for Nintendo Switch.”

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07:58 Jun-03-2017

Yeah good News for every PC gamers of all specs mid to next gen, but a request to the developers that don't ruin optimization by using any kind of crappy DRMs ...

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23:23 May-26-2017

YES THIS IS AWESOME THANK YOU EPIC GAMES! :D

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21:53 May-26-2017

Does anybody know about a good benchmark tool using unreal ?

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12:10 May-26-2017

Unreal is a great engine don't get me wrong, especially with it using a lower language like C++, but I really dislike how Unreal is dependent on the blueprint system when it comes to scripting, I prefer Unitys way of handling scripting, Unity integrates Visual Basic so comfortably well and seamless, also dislike how the UI is just confusing, especially for beginners, this alone makes few people uncomfortable to use Unreal, compared to Unity editor, it makes it very easy to configure things, and you can make custom editors too for specific tasks.


I really do like Unreals Shader Node Editor, and while yeah Unity has the asset store for that, I would still like it if Unity can have its own built in Shader Node Editor, Unreal also has great stock graphics, compared to Unity, in Unity you need to either use the asset store or write your own Shaders for bloom, god rays etc.,

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12:11 May-26-2017

Unity has decent stock graphics, but that's it, just decent you have to write your own shaders or use some from the asset store for your game to look gorgeous.


as for performance, both engines perform great, but right now Unreal is leading, there's tons of techniques for optimization for both engines it just depends on the developer on how much time they are willing to spend optimizing their game.


If any of you plan to make a game check both engines out and see what you prefer, if things are easier and faster for you to work on in insert engine name here then use it.

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12:22 May-26-2017

forgot to mention Unity also has great documentation, making it easier to learn, when compared to Unreal, where you need to go a little more deeper to see how something is done, since the documentation in Unreal is either messy, or outdated.

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11:17 May-26-2017

yay for the performance optimization, boo for the volumetric fog as it is absolutely annoying, distracting and well does what a fog does lowers visibility, which sucks... for the so called "cinematic" driven games its alright, but that's exactly why there are cinematics for that :D

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12:04 May-26-2017

It's cool for single player story driven stuff but keep it well away from multiplayer.

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12:40 May-26-2017

If they keep it as an optional settings than it isn't a problem right? People who want to use it they can and for people who dislike it just disable it.

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